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<p>Tyler Cerny comes around to score during Indiana&#x27;s win over Miami (OH) on Feb. 20, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)</p>
Tyler Cerny comes around to score during Indiana's win over Miami (OH) on Feb. 20, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

Indiana baseball wins home opener over Miami (OH) 12-6

The Hoosiers relied on their bullpen to give their starting pitchers a chance to rest before the weekend.

With a high of 57 degrees, with sun, and Indiana ranked in the latest college baseball top 25 rankings, there was a lot of excitement for Indiana's home opener.

Bart Kaufman Stadium was packed as Indiana defeated Miami (OH), 12-6, extending its winning streak to three games.

After Indiana used three starting pitchers over the weekend, the coaching staff declared the team's home opener would be a bullpen day, allowing its starting pitchers to rest before the weekend series. The bullpen day allowed Indiana to give reps to many different rested arms, including some pitchers who made their first appearances of the season. 

Indiana slotted Seth Benes as the starting pitcher for the bullpen day. Benes, a freshman, was previously ranked as the eighth-best player in the state of Missouri. After Benes retired the first batter of the game, Miami's No. 2 hitter Zach MacDonald sent the ball out of the park for a solo home run. After allowing a run on the board, Benes bounced back, striking out Miami’s No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, David Novak and Ryland Zaborowski. 

Cooper Katskee replaced Benes in the second inning as he made his season debut. Katskee made 10 relief appearances last season for Indiana, striking out 12 batters over 12 innings pitched. Katskee displayed a killer off-speed pitch, striking out two batters in a 1-2-3 inning. 

After Katskee's strong second-inning pitching performance, Tyler Cerny smacked a double off of the left field wall. Miami left fielder Tre Keels moved in on his first step, rather than taking his first step back. Following Joey Brenczewski grounding out to advance Cerny to third, Andrew Wiggins hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Cerny for Indiana’s first run scored of the game.

Miami fought back. Evan Appelwick, a former Indiana Hoosier, opened the top of the third inning with a no-doubt home run that flew over the left-field bullpen. Miami reclaimed its lead, 2-1. That ended Katskee’s outing as Grant Holderfield came in for relief, making his first pitching appearance since 2022. Holderfield missed all of the 2023 season because of injury.

After allowing a double to Ty Batusich, Holderfield got out of the situation. He got the core of Miami’s lineup to ground out twice, leaving a runner stranded in scoring position.

Indiana opened the bottom of the third inning with Brandon Burckel getting hit by a pitch, followed by Carter Mathison drawing a walk. With two runners on and no outs, Josh Pyne delivered a three-run home run, giving Indiana the lead for the first time in the game at 4-2. 

When asked about Pyne’s recent success, Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer credited Pyne’s offseason, saying, “The big thing Josh did was he gained twenty pounds… Josh doesn’t have to move as much now so you’re seeing more barrel accuracy, and as you see barrel accuracy and strength, then you’re going to see power come with it.”

Opening the top of the fourth inning, Jack Moffitt relieved Holderfield. Moffitt played the last four seasons at Gonzaga but he only made appearances in 2023. While at Gonzaga, Moffitt threw 30.2 innings, striking out 22 batters. The 6-foot-7 pitcher only faced four batters in the fourth inning, while throwing minimal pitches. Moffitt often showcased a fastball, ranging in speed between 89 and 91 miles per hour.

Moffitt returned for the fifth inning, where he found himself in some trouble, hitting a batter and giving up two runs on two hits. After getting out of the inning, Indiana’s offense backed up Moffitt. With hits from Devin Taylor, Cerny and Joey Brenczewski, Indiana scored three runs and never looked back. 

Entering the sixth inning, Evan Whiteaker took the mound for Indiana. He struck out Ryan Novak swinging. Whiteaker's defense saved him after he allowed a ball up the middle of the infield. Cerny slid to keep the ball from leaving the infield and he flipped it to second base to end the inning.

Cerny said he feels comfortable playing at shortstop and he called it his natural position. Cerny said, “[I] played shortstop all summer. That was the goal there, just those reps and shortstops my natural position. I played that growing up in high school… now it’s been just natural for me.”

Miami attempted a late-game comeback with a two-run seventh inning, led by David Novak, who hit a moonshot two-run home run over the scoreboard. 

Despite Miami’s offensive efforts, Indiana scored four runs in the eighth inning, thanks to doubles from Burckel, Mathison and Pyne.

Next, Indiana will travel to Waco, Tex., for a three-game weekend series at Baylor.

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